Team Liteboat

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Team members: Mathieu Bonnier, Liteboat founder and CEO, Erwan Kerebel, L’homme nouveaux
Hometown: Pontcharra, France
Race vessel: Liteboat XP
LOA: 19.8′
Human propulsion: Oars
R2AK Cred: Mathieu built a boat and completed the race in 2016 with only minor nerve damage.
Connect: facebook, website

While the remnants of our high school French can help us find the library, want a cheese omelette, or ask someone to play tennis, we lack the nuance in Team Liteboat’s native tongue to express how damned impressed we are with the return of our first European entrant. Team Liteboat embodies our two favorite French qualities: hardcore and seafaring adventure.

You want hardcore? How about parkour, Papillion, or the French Foreign Legion who have been kicking ass worldwide since North America still had that new car smell?

You want seafaring adventure? Our absolute hero is Bernard Moitessier who obliterated the great 1968 London Times around-the-world race—not by coming in first, but by ditching his big lead and the finish line to keep sailing. Even Month Python’s French knights couldn’t top that unspoken taunt to the world:

I’m a sailor, your race is meaningless.

(cue the sad mime letting go of a balloon)

If there was a United Nations of sailing, France would have a permanent seat on the G5 (or whatever); a plushy one, right in front.

Sure, the French might be famous for their fries, bread, and toast (some would say cheese, but they’d be wrong, that’s the Swiss), but France is boat crazy and boasts the world’s largest wooden boat festival, an indoor windsurfing circuit, and more sailing speed records than any other country. Not bad for a country that gets lambasted for drinking wine and working something like 6 weeks a year.

Team Liteboat does their country one better and bucks the claim of a former president who declared, “The French have no word for entrepreneur.” To prove him wrong, they started their own company designing and building high performance rowboats and sailboats, then, proving that the French do have a word for adventure, took one and rowed a big chunk of the Northwest Passage and then solo across the Atlantique, and spent 17 days in a body destroying/successful bid for Ketchikan in the R2AK 2016.

Impressive, non?

Now they are back with two years of perspective, another crew, and another new boat designed specifically for the race. Longer, sail-er, fewer hulls, more/a cabin, and the V2 experience to send it all the way to Alaska and plant another Liteboat flag on North America’s west coast.

Welcome to the R2AK, Team Liteboat. Allons-y amigos.